Chobani's Turkish founder pledges $2M for refugees

AP News
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Posted: Oct 09, 2014 6:18 PM

The Turkish-born founder of New York yogurt-maker Chobani pledged $2 million Thursday for refugees fleeing violence in his homeland.

Hamdi Ulukaya said he hopes to bring attention and additional aid to those caught up in fighting along the Iraq and Syria borders with Turkey. The region has been targeted by the militant Islamic State group.

Ulukaya, a Kurdish Turk who grew up in eastern Turkey, said his focus is on the human suffering taking place amid the political debate of "who's to blame, who's not to blame, who's acting, who's not acting" in the troubled region.

Turkey says it won't join combat operations against the Islamic State group unless the U.S.-led coalition also goes after the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"At the same time there is this human tragedy in the field, and we're not talking about it a lot," Ulukaya said by phone. Refugees are in particular need of winter supplies, he said.

Initial donations will go to the International Rescue Committee and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Ulukaya immigrated to the United States in the 1990s. He launched Chobani Greek Yogurt in New Berlin, New York in 2007. The company has more than $1 billion in annual sales and donates 10 percent of its annual profits to charities.